Reforming a Company Culture
With a facility that has over 50 employees you might think a few would inevitably get lost in the shuffle, right? If you had asked Robert Molina that question two years ago, your assumption would’ve been correct.
Today? It’s a different story and a different shop culture for Molina and CollisionCare Xpress.
Molina, the owner of the Miami-area shop underwent a complete shop culture revamp after he realized the employees he was surrounding himself with were contributing to a negative work environment.
“Changing my culture was a huge eye opener for me,” Molina says.
Since he began revamping his shop culture two years ago, Molina has seen an increase of $500,000 in sales each month.
“At the end of the day, a shop culture can really make or break a facility’s success,” he says.
Aaron Glaser, a Kentucky shop owner, has experienced a similar culture turnaround in his four shops. For him it's all about attitude.
“If you can't be a team player and have a good attitude then we don't have a place for you,” Glaser says.
To redo his team culture, Glaser had his entire team meet for 2–3 hours to redefine their work environment in greater Louisville. Since that day nearly two years ago, he’s had minimal turnover.
Below, Molina and Glaser share their tips to a complete culture makeover.
Tip No. 1. Change the hiring mindset.
Molina implemented a hiring process that involved all of his managers. The team now has three interviews with a potential employee and, at each of the interviews, every single manager is present. By having all managers at the interviews, the team as a whole can more easily identify red flags presented by job candidates.
Molina also recommends focusing on one specific question in interviews. For instance, he typically sits down promptly informs job candidates that there are no rules for the interview. Then, the team sits back and watches how the person reacts. The team keeps an eye out for answers that indicate that the employee will be able to handle responsibility and unexpected situations.
Glaser, meanwhile, mainly recommends having more than one manager in an interview. He typically has two people in interviews. It’s all about asking the candidate questions to determine their attitude and personality, he says (See Sidebar: Handing Out a Personality Quiz)
“I want someone with a good work ethic, who’s accountable, and then I can teach them all the other skills required for the position,” Glaser says.
Glaser looks for qualities including passion for the craft and customer service, a good attitude, and an ability to work as a team member. To instill those values, he had cards made with the values written on them. Team members keep cards at their workstations, or they can also notice them on a banner hanging over the shop floor.
Tip No.2. Encourage feedback everywhere.
Molina is looking for staff members that will be able to walk into an environment and offer options to change a culture, if necessary. Molina recommends that a body shop operator offer a way for their staff to anonymously provide feedback on the facility and the operations.
For example, Molina provides suggestion cards that employees can fill out with any recommendations or questions they have to improve the work environment.
Glaser began his overhaul of culture by including his team in the process. He wanted his team to be involved in the end result, so that everyone felt encouraged to maintain ideal values.
“We do a quality-control checklist in the shop, and the last person to do the checklist is the estimator,” Glaser says.
Glaser has his team perform that checklist in order to provide each staff member with feedback on the job. The last person to do the checklist is the estimator because they’re usually in constant contact with the customer. If the estimator isn’t available to provide comments, the person to complete the quality-control checklist is whoever had first contact with the estimate.
Tip. No. 3. Keep tabs on progress.
It's important to keep tabs on how a staff is progressing toward their goals and daily tasks, Molina notes.
The Florida shop operator schedules daily production meetings for the entire staff, but he also has extra group meetings during lunch for the management team.
And, he checks in on employees one-on-one, with an open-door policy.
Glaser leads his team in praising each other for work well done. When he sees someone doing an exemplary job of following core values he'll make sure to call attention to it.
“It's painful sometimes, because it's hard, but as a leader we need to embody the values that we want to see in our staff as well,” he says. “I can’t display a bad attitude, because then it encourages my team to do that.”
At morning meetings, Glaser also picks one value to go over with the team and have them reflect upon it.
Tip No. 4. Invest in the shop’s future.
An owner must make strides to improve their shop’s skill level and appearance, Molina says. By staying on top of the business’ future, the owner demonstrates to the team that he or she cares about investing in their futures.
Molina recently invested in gaining more shop certifications, he says. He invested $700,000 for the shop to become Mercedes-Benz certified, a certification that no other body shop facility has in his immediate area.
“Insurance companies and other industry partners are seeing us as more adaptable, willing to communicate, and view us as a longterm partner now,” he explains.
Glaser also invests in the quality of his team. His shop is not only I-CAR Gold class certified, but the facility also often hosts lunch-and-learn sessions with companies like 3M. Those companies have been vital in teaching Glaser’s employees how to remain up-to-date on any and all necessary training.